Broadband Prices in Latin America and the Caribbean
Universidad de San Andres Working Paper #15
22 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 17, 2013
This study discusses the current situation and evolution of broadband service offerings in Latin America and the Caribbean. The primary source of data is the annual survey of broadband plans conducted by the Center for Technology and Society at Universidad de San Andrés since 2010. The survey encompasses all broadband plans (fixed and mobile) offered by service providers with over 10% of market share in the region’s most relevant markets (20 countries in total).
The findings reveal a mature fixed broadband market in Latin America. While the cost per Mbps of advertised speed has dropped significantly between 2010 and 2013 (-58%), market entry prices have only dropped 11% over the same period. This indicates that fixed broadband operator prefer to compete on service quality rather than price in the middle and high-income segments of the residential market. Further, despite improvements in some price indicators, the gaps with OECD countries continue to be large. As an example, a 2.5Mbps connection in Latin America is, on average, three times more expensive than in the OECD.
The findings also corroborate the opportunity to expand the market frontier with mobile broadband services. A price comparison with similar fixed access services reveals that mobile broadband is, on average, 23% cheaper. Yet the data is not conclusive as to whether mobile broadband prices exert pressure on fixed broadband prices. Also, an affordability analysis shows that, on average, Latin American users must spend six times as much as their OECD counterparts to purchase the same mobile broadband service package.
The key potential offered by mobile broadband stems from the greater segmentation of broadband plans, which enables a better fit between user preferences and willingness to pay, particularly in the low-income market segment. Nonetheless, some of the observed segmentation strategies by mobile broadband operators warrant regulatory attention, as they may challenge basic principles about Internet network openness and lead to anti-competitive effects in the so-called OTT (over-the-top) market.
Keywords: broadband, price, Latin America, policy
JEL Classification: L96
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation